‘LaPolitics’: Graves goes off at committee, POTUS headed this way 

While back in the district yesterday working on Hurricane Ida recovery, Congressman Garret Graves of Baton Rouge logged into a markup meeting of the Natural Resources Committee. Sitting in the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot of the Springfield Fire Department, Graves appeared via video to participate—and to remind his colleagues that south Louisiana has very real needs right now. “This is just stupid,” he said during the meeting. “I’ve got to take time from doing what I need to be doing to get people resources they need.” Graves also managed to fire off a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking the feds tap into the strategic reserve and to ease certain regulations on refineries to address the fuel shortage. For his part, Congressman Troy Carter of New Orleans, who also represents parts of the Baton Rouge region, sent a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards this week asking him to retroactively reinstate the expanded unemployment benefits for Louisiana residents. Given the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida, Carter told Edwards that people “desperately need help” and “need money in their pockets right now.” Watch a video of Graves during the meeting. 

—It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happening today—the president of the U.S. is coming to Louisiana. Arrival details weren’t made public as of Thursday afternoon, but it’s a safe bet President Joe Biden will survey the destruction left behind in southeast Louisiana by Hurricane Ida. Local and state officials are expected to get some face time with the president as well. Biden has already heard from Louisiana’s U.S. senators and representatives. Every member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation co-signed a letter this week addressed to Biden asking for disaster relief for Hurricane Ida and last year’s named storms that made landfall here. Today’s visit is specifically for Hurricane Ida, but there’s no doubt the president will get an earful about Hurricane Laura, too. The latter took aim at the Lake Charles region roughly a year ago. While conservatives took to social media asking Biden not to visit, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the presidential stop is a win for the state since it will help federal officials understand what’s happening on the ground. “When you see it yourself,” Edwards told reporters this week, “it’s just so much more compelling.” During a White House speech yesterday, the president said, “We know that there is much to be done in this response on our part. We need to get power restored. We need to get more food, fuel and water deployed.” Like U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, Biden also used this week’s hurricane as an opportunity to promote his $1 trillion infrastructure legislation, which will probably be among the talking points during his visit today. 

—Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has postponed the inaugural meeting of the Louisiana Voting System Commission, which was supposed to gather this week at the Capitol. Citing complications connected to Hurricane Ida, Ardoin said he cancelled the meeting to allow the “committee and interested members of the public the opportunity to assess their individual circumstances at this time.” Because Act 480 requires the commission to begin considerations on or before Sept. 1, Ardoin has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to suspend that provision of Act 480 in the next emergency declaration from the executive branch. 

They said it: “Anything you need to get me straight on?”—New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, inviting reporters to ask questions, during a press conference earlier this week.

Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.